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Sallisaw’s Cristina Lauden – athlete spotlight – presented by sans bois hospice

Cristina Lauden is the latest in a string of talented girls to come through Sallisaw High School according to her track coach Matt Hawkins.

“Cristina is a great athlete as were her sisters who I also got to coach,” said Hawkins. “She’s a hardworking competitor that’s very coachable and is eager to improve.”

Now a junior, Lauden competed in the high jump two years ago and placed fifth at the state tournament. Of course, there was no track last year due to the coronavirus so we fast forward to this past spring. Cristina had high hopes of a big improvement at state but there was a problem.

“I hurt my knee last summer and it was just a nagging injury all through basketball but then it got a lot worse during track season. Before Covid and the injury I was jumping 5’4” pretty regularly but the injury really hurt my explosion ability and I just couldn’t get over five feet.”

Despite the injury, Lauden again qualified for the state tournament in the high jump where she found the competition to be much stiffer than she remembered from two years ago.

“When we got to state this girl (Ally Stephenson of Kingfisher) surprised us all with a jump of 5’8” and the runner-up jumped 5’6” which was also a surprise. So the people I lost to were great athletes and I don’t feel bad about losing to them.”

Cristina finished in a tie for fourth place which, despite the bum knee, was an improvement from her sophomore year. As mentioned, she also plays basketball for the Lady Black Diamonds and says that while she tends to get put at the post spot because of her 6-foot frame she feels more comfortable at guard. One of her role models is the girl who played post ahead of her, Mia Maxwell.

“She really carried the team in scoring and was such a hard worker. But she also was very funny and made practices fun with a lot of energy.”

During the off-season Cristina thinks they’ll take a more serious look at her knee to determine how to best fix it. In the meantime, she and coach Hawkins hope to build her strength with some work in the weight room. She’s also going to play travel basketball for the first time and feels that the competition there will help her improve her roundball game for the next school season. 

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